Last week, I read Chapter 3 of The Mission of Motherhood. I read it and prayed about it and read it again and prayed some more. Then, I carefully constructed a blog post. Most of the time, when I write, my fingers fly and it all gets onto the screen quickly. I labored over that post. Then, I decided to give Typepad's new picture editor feature a whirl. I made a careless mistake and <poof!> there went the post.
Patrick and Mary Beth tried to help me to try to recover it. It was long gone. Over the next couple of days, I had heart-to-heart talks with three dear friends. What I learned is that some things are better pondered in one's own heart, whispered to a trusted friend, and not broadcast on the internet. In the end, I'm glad for the process of writing that post. I'm glad I could recount it in detail for my friends. I'm glad they lingered long to listen and to offer wise counsel. And, ultimately, I'm glad the post disappeared.
My first friend pointed out that it might not be such a good idea to make longterm decisions in the midst of an intrusive remodeling project, several kid emergencies, an extended Daddy trip to Florida, and some health issues of my own. She reminded me that my introverted soul was starved. No kidding! I had had no time without strangers in my house and several children in my bed for weeks. I was desperate for silence. Also, my rhythm was rocked and the time I'd carefully carved to write without taking anything from my family had dissipated when Stephen hurt himself and I no longer had to sit for two hours three times a week while he practiced. Perhaps because fatigue was having its way with me; all I could hear were the voices saying this wasn't a real mission anyway. These weren't anything more than first world frivolties. My friend, who knows and understands the mission I want to embrace--both in my home and in the blogging world--helped me to see my blog through a new lens, both figuratively and literally. She had some tangible solutions to things I saw as insurmountable obstacles. She's promised to nudge me along the learning curve. I look forward to putting those ideas in motion.
The second friend listened long. I took the phone with me and talked and talked as I walked downtown McLean on a sunny late afternoon. Nick kicked the soccer ball around and my friend Edith and I kicked around some ideas. She helped my to see how to guard my heart, to ensure that it was undivided, even as I sought to have meaningful, God-honoring relationships both in my home and beyond my own four walls. She pointed out that long ago God had planted a seed in my marriage--one that we were certain was a call to a big family and home education. At the time, that seemed like a big, bold mission. It still is a big, bold mission.
Then, Edith had another idea that gave me new energy and enthusiasm. She said she really enjoyed visiting with you all last week during needle & thREAD and she'd like to come back and share more sewing and some of her knitting, too. I'm so, so happy to welcome her here. I think that as I labor in my home, at my learning table, and in this virtual living room, it is good to have co-laborers who are similarly called, people who can remind me that God wants me here and challenge me to do His will wholeheartedly.
Then, I talked to Megan. Megan has been entrusted with my heart during times in my life when it has been at its most vulnerable. And she has entrusted me with hers. On Karoline's birthday, Megan treated us to tea. I literally had not slept in over 48 hours. Life had been a blur of Spanish-speaking contractors, college applications, angry teenagers, damaged kitchen walls, crooked countertops, and hour and hours of college math. I was totally exhausted, yet the voice in my head kept saying, "You aren't doing enough. You just stay here trying to bless the abundantly blessed and still you falter all the time."
Megan whisked us into a teatime fairy tale and made the birthday so very memorable. Once, nine years ago, while looking adoringly at his wife, Megan's husband Scott said, "She has a way of making everything more beautiful, doesn't she?" She does. And I count Megan among my dearest blessings. Megan and I have been walking the Alphabet Path with our girls this year. She's all in for sharing pictures and recipes for every letter of the alphabet with you. I know Megan; beauty will follow. And there is value in beauty.
Finally, after hearing me count my failures aloud one time too many, my husband put me in the car on Saturday and drove west into my beloved Blue Ridge mountains. The kids and I introduced him to Rappahanock Cellars and he and I had big, big talk. I was reminded that ever since I was a little girl, God has called me to wholehearted motherhood and to homemaking. And ever since I was a little girl, I have wanted to write. Mike seemed at once surprised and dismayed to learn how close I'd come to ceasing to write (here and elsewhere) without really talking it through with him. All executive management, he jumped in with some ideas for how to make it work better, without taking anything from our home. He also pointed out that mission looks different in the first world. In some ways, it needs to be quiet; it must be almost secret. It's the quiet work of mercy towards our neighbors. It is still God's work. And it still has value.
All in all, I begin this week more peaceful than I've been in quite sometime. There are some changes planned and they are all good. I'm only through Chapter 3 of the book and I feel like the fruits are abundant! Mostly, I've learned well that one way a woman lives with an undivided heart for her family is to entrust that heart to friends who know and understand how dear the mission is to her. We need good friends. Other women can affirm for us that the mostly hidden work in our homes is valuable, necessary, and lifegiving. They can challenge us to live authentic lives as wives and mothers first. They can lift us when we stumble and they can celebrate the every day. This life--large families, home education, wholehearted homemaking--it's a life apart, even when it's in the midst of ordinary suburbia. We are a missionary order of the suburban kind; aprons are our habits.
Are you thinking about the mission of motherhood, too? I'm going to join The Nester for 31 Days. I'm going to host a 31 day "retreat"here to remind myself (and anyone who wants to come along) of the mission of motherhood and matrimony. If you want to do your own 31 Days on anything you choose, head here and join! If you want to retreat from the noise of the 'net for a month and focus your own sweet home and family, grab a “Remind Myself of the Mission” button and curl up with a candle, your Bible, and this good book! Let me know your thoughts below. We can help each other hear His mission. You can add a Remind Myself button by cutting and pasting the code below.
Click here for the whole series.